IF you’re moved by the spine-tingling skirl of pipes, beat of drums, colour and spectacle, join the clans and spectators from across the nation on May 3-6 for the Australian Celtic Festival’s 20th birthday.
Organisers are delighted by the surge of interest for the anniversary event, preparing it to eclipse the 2011 festival which drew a record of almost 6000 visitors and injected $1.5 million into the community.
Discounted weekend festival passes are available at the Visitor Information Centre to residents for $20 on proof of residency.
The festival will honour remote Galicia, Asturias and Brittany in line with the tradition of singling out a Celtic nation each year. Galicia, in a mountainous region south of the Bay of Biscay, is renowned for pilgrimages to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela where in the ninth century the reputed tomb of the Apostle James was discovered.
Neighbouring Asturians are noted for their courage and independence, shown in the Napoleonic wars and Spain’s 1936-39 civil war.
Brittany, northwest France, has a landscape dotted with megalithic monuments, Celtic language, akin to Welsh, is still spoken in some western areas with colourful costumes, featuring high lace headdresses, worn in celebrations.
A dance spectacular from the traditions of the three Celtic nations will be among highlights of the festival.
Spanish Oye Ritmo, from Brisbane, with all Spanish descendant performers who’ve been acclaimed at Canberra’s National Folk Festival, will present a fusion of dance from Galicia and Asturias.
Perth-based Souleiado French Dance Group, in demand for Celtic dances from Brittany, include Breton women as advisers on dance authenticity. Multi-instrumental Senor Cabrales, from Bathurst, will make their first appearance at the festival with traditional Asturian and other Celtic music.
Canadian dancer and choreographer Shawn Silver, from Newfoundland, who has performed with Ireland’s Riverdance, will return for his second appearance at the festival.
Bodhran (hand-held Irish drum) teacher and player Kevin Kelly, recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for organising the world’s biggest Bodhran ensemble - 980 drummers at Sydney’s Lansdowne St Patrick’s Club annual lunch - will perform and give workshops on the May 5-6 weekend.
Noted Tenterfield puppeteer Peter Harris will also give workshops for children with puppets inspired by Australian native fauna.
The definitive history of the Standing Stones by former teacher and pioneer of the array John Mathew will be launched at a festival welcome at the Services Club on Thursday night, May 3.
Pre-order forms for the book, priced at $39.95, are available from Glen Innes Severn Council offices (PO Box 61) or online from www.australiancelticfestival.com.
The Spanish Consul General in Sydney, Mr Gerardo Bugallo Ottone, has been invited as the festival’s special guest.
Schoolchildren and Souleiado dancers will be among performers at the festival’s official opening at the Town Hall on Friday afternoon, May 4.
That will be followed with a first-time Standing Stones concert in the evening with Souleiado Breton dancers, Senor Cabrales and other bands among featured performers.
The skirl of pipes from a lone piper in the autumn mists at dawn at the Standing Stones on the Saturday will signal the weekend’s 20th birthday festivities - including a gala street parade through Glen Innes’s CBD with song and dance simultaneously on Standing Stones stages, massed pipebands, variety show, Strongman events, clan ceremonies, parade/kirking of the tartans, fun run, yard dog championships and Celtic foods.
There will be ticketed night events with pubs, clubs and restaurants participating with entertainment and special menus.
While officially the festival runs from Thursday to Sunday, May 3-6, organisers have added events on Wednesday, May 2, and Monday, May 7, as incentives for visitors to stay over in Glen Innes.
They include on the Wednesday a New England images art exhibition at the Learning Centre Art Gallery, Friends of the Library book sale at the Scout hall, free evening entertainment at the Services Club and combined schools’ concert/Celtic art exhibition at Glen Innes Primary School with a poets’ breakfast at the Services Club on the Monday.
More information: Glen Innes Visitor Information Centre 6730 2400, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gleninnestourism.com, australiancelticfestival.com.
Festival entry passes other than for discounted resident passes, can be booked online.
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